Thursday, August 4, 2011

Guest in Progress: Angela Winter's Amazing Vegan Chutneys

I have to confess:  I’ve often felt sad for vegans, imagining that they are missing out on so many yummy foods.  And then I stopped in for a porch visit with my friend writer/editor/singer Angela Winter who lives in the Durham/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina which, if you didn’t know, has become a true food haven and heaven.  Great farmers markets, great restaurants, great coffee, great food talk…I’m gaining weight just thinking about the fabulous food options down there!

While visiting with Angela, she served a spread that was so delicious, I instantly begged for the recipe, which she graciously gave me.  I, in turn, almost immediately emailed the recipe to a couple of people, who made the spread to rave reviews (one even had people at her party begging for the recipe).

Moral One of the story:  I’m shamefully ignorant when it comes to vegan cuisine.
Moral Two of the story:  When Angela emails asking if I might be interested in a new recipe, say YES! 

Because Angela is so gracious (and because, again, I begged), she agreed to share the famous cilantro-cashew chutney recipe and this new recipe, which takes advantage of tomato season (and which I’ll definitely be making this weekend, after my trip to the farmers market).

Quick, Luscious Noshes (that are also vegan)
By Angela Winter

When friends visit during hot weather, I love to serve chutneys. They’re light, easy to make, and a little spicy, which seems to have a cooling effect on the body. I want my guests to revel in flavor and feel good afterward.

Two of my favorite recipes consistently arouse a “wow” reaction. The first is a protein-rich cashew spread featuring the bright, summery tastes of cilantro and lemon. The second offers a great way to use ripe tomatoes from the garden—the “uglier,” the better. Giving them a brief simmer with cinnamon, ginger, currants, and spices produces a lush, velvety dip that sends people into a frenzy.

Serve either (or both!) chutneys with flatbreads and baby carrots. They pair well with GrĂ¼ner Veltliner, a white Bordeaux, a spicy red wine such as Malbec, Syrah, or Shiraz, or chilled sparkling water with a twist of lime.

Cilantro-Cashew Chutney

Makes about 2 cups
Prep time: 5 minutes

  • One bunch fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, washed and shaken dry
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 fresh hot green chiles (serranos or jalapenos), stemmed and chopped (seed them, too, if you want a milder chutney)
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 cup cashew pieces, toasted in a dry skillet
  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Juice of 2 lemons

Combine everything in a food processor. Process to a smooth puree, stopping periodically to scrape down the mixture with a spatula. Transfer to a serving bowl, and serve at room temperature with baby carrots, pita bread, and/or naan.

You can keep this chutney for up to five days in the refrigerator. For best taste, return it to room temperature before serving.

Tomato-Cinnamon Chutney
Makes about 2 cups
Prep time: 30 minutes

  • 6 medium-sized tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 Tbs. garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. dried currants or raisins
  • ½ to 1 tsp. cayenne
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 Tbs. white or cider vinegar
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbs. sugar
  • 3 Tbs. slivered, roasted pistachios

Peel the tomatoes by blanching them in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Immerse them in cold water; their skins should slip off easily. Dice the tomatoes, and prepare the other ingredients.

Combine the tomatoes, ginger, garlic, currants or raisins, cayenne, and cinnamon in a heavy saucepan. Cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 12 minutes.

Add the vinegar, salt, and sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in the pistachios. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This chutney can be served cold or at room temperature.

You can keep leftovers (if there are any) for four or five days in the refrigerator. This recipe freezes well, too, so consider making a big batch to freeze and use later.

Source for the recipes: These chutneys are modified from recipes in Laxmi’s Vegetarian Kitchen, by Laxmi Hiremath, Harlow & Ratner: Emeryville, CA, 1995. Hiremath combines traditional Indian cooking methods with time-saving techniques, and she lightens her recipes with healthful adjustments to the fat, sodium, and sugar content. Reading this book is like having a friend teach you how to cook in an entirely new way. Your taste buds will thank you, as will the rest of your body. Highly recommended.

About:  After nine years of working for The Sun Magazine, Angela Winter gave up her dream job to spend more time dreaming. Now she’s a singer who supports herself through writing and consulting. In her spare time, she pores through cookbooks, obsesses over her cilantro-cashew chutney, and searches for the perfect tempeh reuben. She lives in Carrboro, North Carolina, but longs to return to Paris—for the falafel in the Marais district.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.